Looking at today’s working life, we can say we have become more productive and faster. But did we become happier or at least more satisfied? Certainly, not!
Digital transformation, disruptive technologies, change, and agility are current buzzwords in our business world, that point out that with rapidly developing technology requires changes in human "resource”, too. In other words: when everything around us becomes agile, changed, and digitally transformed, but the problems in the world of work remain the same and do not decrease, it is worthwhile to take a closer look.
For instance, burnout, depression, and negative stress are still on the rise in our modern working world. In Japan there is even a word for death from overwork: karoshi. We seem to focus on a technical level and to forget the most important thing: people. Or have we just lost sight of the goal?
Is it the goal to make the time we work as exciting, creative, and meaningful as possible? Or is it just about sales, growth and returns? The catch is, if the people in the company see a purpose in their work, they are more motivated and much more involved, which will be reflected in sales growth and returns.
Too good to be true?
Unfortunately, we often continue as before, thinking it sounds too good to be true. Maybe we add some cool and hip technology gadgets, but basically nothing changes. As if this circumstance was not tragic enough, we often ignore the management areas in the company that never really worked. We carry on as we once learned - years ago in expensive management courses - and calm our conscience with the fact that "everyone" does it that way. We have lulled ourselves into a cool management thought pattern so that we no longer want to think about how it could be different. However, both our life and work are inextricably linked, and digital technology found its way into it.
A fatal mistake
But don’t think that “only” technology is changing our working life due to automation and digitization. The main requirement of today is not to master the very rapidly changing technology, but to keep yourself in focus despite this very rapidly changing technology. That might sound like a banality at first, but it is an extremely demanding task. Otherwise there is a good chance that you will end up in a burnout or “wake up” after years of arduous success and look dissatisfied at what has been achieved so far.
There are two decisive reason why companies are increasingly concerned about (work) life: first, those who love, or at least like, their job will perform much better and be more committed; second, "word of mouth" has reached a new dimension, with review portals being used more and more and even a single negative comment online could costs the company valuable orders. Everything is becoming transparent with digitization. Hence, it does not help anymore to write in a glossy brochure about sustainability, the perfect handling of resources, employees, and customers. You must do it - every day - otherwise you read about your lies on the net. More and more entrepreneurs are realizing this and are rethinking the way they lead.
Do we really want to waste of our lives?
Everybody who has been in the work force for a while has probably noticed the following fact: we can introduce process management, implement new forms of project organization, such as SCRUM, or just change the office space from individual to open-plan offices, but if people do not see the point, do not know why they should change, the project will most likely hit the wall. The same applies to people: it is about understanding how we humans tick, what we want and what is important to us. That alone is a difficult task, but it goes even further: it is about not only understanding, but also analyzing, and questioning why certain things are important to us today. It is about changing thought patterns that have been with us for a lifetime.
Considering that we define ourselves nowadays mainly through our professional position the findings of a Gallup study is the more interesting, stating that 70% of people are not enthusiastic about their job and do “work only according to the rules”. Does this show how much we really value ourselves?
Hail to the technology!
For decades, companies have tried to “motivate” employees, but almost always without long-lasting success. So, how can people be motivated? The answer seems to be simple: by meeting basic needs. Money is a factor but by far not the most important one. People want to experience a sense of purpose in what they do every day. They want to be “useful” and be valued for it. Digitization exacerbates this fact even more. Where we used to be able to work creatively and independently, algorithms and processes are now taking the lead.
It takes profound behavioral changes in how we think about work, about people and ourselves. Thanks to technology it is easier now to become agile in a new way, new work, or rather new life, but please with meaning!